Do plants get affected by the flow of water? I try to place them so that they are not disturbed by the current but find it very hard to do so (actually I redirect the current), especially the banana plants which sit on top of the gravel and almost never stay where I place them until they end up in some weird spot.
I also noticed almost everyone uses two plant supplements, is this necessary? Some people use those "tab" thingies that you stick into the gravel next to the plant. I have only the NutraFin plant gro but am not sure if that will be adequate. Should I see how it goes with this alone, or should I take extra precautions and just go for the other supplement as well?
I'd suggest to give it some time first and see how your plants respond to what you have. Also a factor that shouldn't be neglected is your source water and its level of nutrition's (or not).
I know quite some people and sales people will say you next XYZ under the gravel XYZ sticks for the plants, XYZ liquid fertilizer and CO2 and what not.
In all my tanks for all the yrs before the move I never used non of that and it worked wonderful boarder-lining too much growth with some plants, so apparently the water-fish combo I had must have been pretty darn good for plants just like that.
personally i use grow sticks and have a few issues and i really NEED to use a liquid all in one fert. there like 15-17 nuts and micro nuts that a plant needs to be healthy and grow. i would use a liquid fert once a week if you have "normal low light" and maybe twice a week if you have mid range lighting in terms of wattage.
The rate of water flow through the filter has an impact on the amount of oxygen drawn into the water, and carbon dioxide (CO2) expelled from the water in what we call the gaseous exchange. Surface disturbance speeds this up, as does higher flow filtration, airstones and bubble effects and powerheads. There are two detrimental issues to this: CO2 which is extremely important for plant growth is driven out of the water faster, and oxygen is brought into the water at levels beyond what is good for the plants. Plants have more difficulty assimilating nutrients when the oxygen level increases. But the more significant aspect is the CO2.
Submerged plants have difficulty obtaining enough CO2 in nature and in the aquarium; this fact is believed by many to be the reason for the inherently slow growth and low productivity of aquatic plants over terrestrial. Further, freshwater emerged plants have been shown to be more than four times more productive that submerged plants. The reason is because CO2 diffuses so slowly in water as opposed to air, and this limits the underwater plant's uptake of CO2 because the CO2 molecules don't contact the leaves quick enough to meet the plant's needs. Aquatic plants have to use enzymes to rapidly capture the CO2. When the CO2 levels in the water become depleted, these enzymes sit idle, so to speak, but the plant still has to provide energy to them. This results in a reduction in photosynthetic efficiency and therefore growth of the plant because energy is being wasted. Thus, any thing that removes CO2 in however small an amount will be detrimental to the plant's growth.
In a natural or low-tech system, the balance between the 17 nutrients (one of which is carbon) and light has to be there; so anything that may impact however slightly can become a critical factor in less success. The one thing we cannot "control" in this type of setup is the CO2, by which I mean that it is entirely dependent upon the fish and biological processes; with light we can control it, in intensity and duration, to balance, as we can with the other macro- and micro-nutrients through fertilization. Plants will photosynthesize up to the factor in least supply. Many have planted tanks that fail because the CO2 is the limiting factor, and algae will take over because it is better able to use carbonates for carbon than most (but not all) plants. The point here is that nothing should be allowed to negatively impact the CO2 in a natural planted aquarium.
The water flow is important for bringing nutrients to the leaves and roots, and keeping the leaves free of sediments. But there has to be a balance so as not to adversely affect the plants ability to assimilate nutrients including carbon from CO2.
With respect to your second issue, fertilizers: most natural systems have nutrients but not all of them or in sufficient quantity to provide the needs of the plants. The solution is a balanced complete fertilizer. Liquid works for all plants, whether substrate-rooted, rooted on wood/rock, or floating. In order to ensure the plant gets the required 15 nutrients aside from carbon and nitrogen that come from other sources in the aquarium, the fertilizer should be a comprehensive. These nutrients are required in specific proportions; plant growth problems can result from an excess or deficiency of several different nutrients. I only recommend what I've used, and this is Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium and the Kent Freshwater Supplement. I checked the website for info on Nutrafin and it wasn't very helpful. If you're using it and the plants are lush and green, it may be fine.
Substrate fertilization is obviously only effective for substrate-rooted plants. Echinodorus and crypts feed heavily through the roots, since most of the species are bog plants in their native habitat. Using a tab or stick next to the roots of the larger swords is certainly beneficial, in my experience amazingly so. I use Nutrafin's Plant-Gro sticks; they are less expensive than Flourish tabs, but the latter are also good.
As Money said, all this has to be in balance with your light and CO2 (the variable). There are very few plants indeed that will not grow well in a natural system with 1 watt of full spectrum light, adequate fish load, and supplemented nutrients.
There isn't much more I can do about the flow of the water, and I am not going to junk my hood just for this reason. The way it sits right now, the plants are practically stationary except maybe one, and it's leaves are barely moving at all. I mentioned before that one of the bananas (the one I had for a couple of weeks) grows out a new leaf now and then, so I'm going to assume they are ok for now... I'll keep you guys updated as to whether or not they are doing ok.
But if I understood right, its not so much the movement of the plants as it is the fact that the water flow is driving the CO2 out?
when the surface of water is disturbed a gas exchange happens where c02 leaves and 02 enters
I uploaded another vid of the tank to demonstrate the flow of water, as you can see it is fairly intense. This IS probably as calm as I can get it without getting fancy, except now I have bubbles ganging up on the left wall starting from the corner.
Moneymitch, I have what I would say a lot of surface movement and you can tell from the video. Let me know if its really as bad as I think.
YouTube - Another vid of the 29G
In my view there is far too much current in this 29g aquarium. The angelfish should not be swimming like that; they are a sedate, quiet fish that cruise amongst plants and reeds, picking food particles off them.
If the existing filter is not adjustable, I would seriously look to getting a smaller filter. In my 33g I use a plain sponge filter; it is an Eheim but is nothing more than a circular sponge around a shaft connected to a small motor that pulls water through it. In a planted tank you don't need high filtration, and your minimal fish load will not produce CO2 in abundance. And that surface disturbance is absolutely driving it off.
If I seem to be negative, I am sorry; but you asked the question and I am honestly giving you my informed opinion.:-)
Thanks, I don't like the current myself. What I did come up with is I put one of those cylindrical pyramid looking feeder things at the tip of one of the jets and it really slowed things down because its now coming out through a few small holes, I only had one so I'm gonna go get one more right now and see how that works out, unless I see something else at the store more to my liking. Thanks!
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